Suggestions for building RetroArch mini PC


I wanted to build a mini PC for playing RetroArch on it. I already tried RetroArch on my PC and it’s great, but I wanted a solution for hooking up to my 4K TV. So I thought of buildiung a mini PC. But I don’t know what hardware would be best for my requirements, which are:

  • Systems: PS2, N64 and lower
  • For N64 I would like to be able to use ParaLLEl RDP/RSP on 1x resolution
  • Upscaling other systems at max. 2x
  • Using the CRT Royale shader on all systems

PC Builds tried:

  1. Desktop
    • Ryzen 7 3700x
    • GTX 1660 Ti
    • 32GB RAM
    • No trouble at all
  2. Old Intel NUC
    • Intel Celeron J3455
    • Intel HD 500
    • 2GB RAM
    • N64 and PS2 had troubles w/o shader, and CRT Royale shader didn’t run smoothly at all

Now I’m looking for something inbetween those to builds that matches my requirements. I had something like this in mind, since it can run Dolphin in native resolution smoothly and it has a reasonable price:

Can you recommend such hardware for my requirements? If not, what is the least powerful hardware I should get?

Hi, take look on this video from etaprime. i think it could fit your needs:

Components used:

  • HP EliteDesk 800 G2 SSF i5 6500
  • LP GTX 1650
  • 8GB DDR4
  • PNY CS900 240GB SSD

The most important part in your pc should be cpu, especially the single thread performance is crucial for emulation

Yes that would be a potent build for my needs. But it would be again a “pretty big” desktop build. I was looking for a small formfactor pc like the Intel NUC or Minisforum Series.

I found a review for a fairly new mini pc: It even runs Cemu, not at full 30FPS though at a decent FPS for this formfactor.

Let me give it to you delicately…

PS2 Emulation is a disaster. Not only is there just one functional emulator, but the developers don’t put any effort into optimising it for lower-tier systems (not even after waiting 4 years for a new version).

If you’re going to dedicate your PC to PS2 Emulation, you might as well aim for one that can already do PS3 Emulation.

Back to the topic. I would recommend you the new Atari VCS Console if you want a fairly powerful PC dedicated for emulation:

You will need an absolute beast of a cpu if you want to emulate PS2 correctly. The current best are Intel 11700k and AMD Ryzen 7 5800x.

But isn’t this only true for a few games like God of War and Shadow of the Colossus? Cause I saw some videos where they emulate PS2 with Ryzen 4500U at 60FPS (probably without upscaling). Or is there an “accurate” setting for PS2 Emulators like the new ParaLLEl N64?

Ok, so I’ve researched now for quite a bit and came to my final build that will (hopefully) handle all my requirements:

  • Asrock Deskmini X300
  • Ryzen 5 4650G
  • 8GB RAM

From Videos I saw, the CPU can handle almost any emulation at a reasonable FPS (even PS2). But what I saw was, that the Vulkan backend in many emulators really made the difference (in comparison to OpenGL).

A short update:

So I built a mini PC like described above with these components and it works like a charm with anything I throw at it. It even runs PS2 emulation pretty fine.

I can really recommend this setup. It cost me about 400$ which is an ok price for the hardware, though it might be too high of a price for some.